Monday, October 12, 2009

Let me tell you a story . . .

I'll keep it short.
I spent a few years working in Italy. In restaurants there it's common to have a few Extra Virgin Olive Oils (EVOO) of varying quality for different uses: A run-of-the-mill for bulk uses like salad dressings, pasta doughs, etc, a nicer but still basic finishing EVOO for risottos, pastas, and general drizzles, There is usually a great olive oil, for super fresh, special applications, like over the perfect tomato, or with amazing figs and ricotta, etc. etc.
and then . . . . there's a Very VIP Olive Oil, reserved only for those who can appreciate it (usually the cooks).
I was introduced to one of these VIP.EVOO's (stay with me) in my first posting in Bergamo, Italy. Ardonino olive oil, with a subtle but very distinct fruity flavor, it lacks that kick that some oils have. It was my first revelation on the value of a really good olive oil. It changed how I thought about the application, and like everyone's first, I fell deeply in love.
I left Bargamo with a few bottles, which I went through relatively quickly, and then I pined for months. When I returned to Italy to work in Imola, (Emilia Romagna) I looked everywhere for Ardonino. Finally I found it, hidden in a small store in Bologna.
Before my return to the states, I made a special trip for a lone bottle of the stuff. (it's expensive and I was broke) Waiting for the last train back to Imola, I set my bag down and heard a muffled clunk. After a quick coffee I looked down to see my back pack in a puddle of olive oil.
I had to return home empty handed.
Back in New York, I wandered listlessly, scanning every shelf in hopes of spying the Ardonino label. Finally, after literally 3 years of searching, on my way to work, I saw it. Liquid gold, my old love, at Garden of Eden on 23rd st. Strapped for time and cash, I returned a few days later, and it was gone!! They had pitched it because it wasn't selling!
I was devestated, but with new found hope, I continued to scan olive oil selections around the city. Where did it finally turn up? . . . . .Food Eporium on 14th street, of all places, $34 a 500ml bottle, ouch.
Still, I sprang for one, eight years after our introduction. Was it as delicious as I remember? Of course not, but it's very very good olive oil. The price is just a little steep.
Yesterday, I spotted that same 34 dollar bottle marked down to $3.99, Hot damn!
I bought 4, and I'm thinking about going back for more.
If you're in hood, you should definitely pick some up.
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